Back in April, when Sports By Brooks reported that “SportsNation” co-host Colin Cowherd would be leaving the program for an ESPN show of his own in 2013, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that “SportsNation” as viewers know it would change dramatically, especially now that the other shoe has dropped in Michelle Beadle defecting to NBC – another development first broken by SbB – effective immediately.
SbB also reported that Charissa Thompson, who has already made stops at FOX Sports, NFL Network and even Versus (now known as NBC Sports Network) in her young broadcasting career, and who has been an employee of the Worldwide Leader for all of one year, would be Michelle Beadle’s “SportsNation” replacement “two weeks after Beadle’s last show,” which is officially scheduled for this Thursday. (Meanwhile, Thompson made, more or less, her officially unofficial debut as “SportsNation” co-host on Friday, subbing for Beadle.)
Now, who but SbB is hearing that Mark Schlereth, an 11-year ESPN veteran who currently hosts the evening show on ESPN Radio alongside a veteran of both ESPN and the Air Force, Bronx native Mike Hill, “is the favorite to land Colin Cowherd’s SportsNation role when Cowherd gets his own ESPN TV show in early ’13.”
While Schlereth is a regular on “NFL Live” and has made appearances on other ESPN programs such as “Mike & Mike,” and yes, even “SportsNation,” hosting a daily program on one of the ESPN networks would most certainly be a step up from co-hosting a show on ESPN Radio in a time slot frequently pre-empted by live local sports broadcasts by ESPN Radio affiliates on the East Coast, and occasionally live national sports broadcasts on ESPN Radio itself.
And consider “Hill & Schlereth” just started this January. Could it be that “H&S” was just a vehicle constructed by the Worldwide Leader to see how Schlereth would perform in a regular hosting role? And were they even half-considering Schlereth as Cowherd’s replacement on “SportsNation” when they launched “H&S”? You figure that, even with someone with as long of a tenure as Schlereth, he’d need to make somewhat of a transition from analyst to regular host in some form (even if, as the title suggests, he appears to be playing “second fiddle” on the radio show).
While the jury is out on Thompson’s reign in “SportsNation,” people are not necessarily warming up to the news that Schlereth may unseat Cowherd on the program. “He’s as close to unwatchable as it gets,” opines Josh Walters, while someone who dubs himself Bobby Digital likens Schlereth to “the horrendous [Dan] LeBatard”.
Considering the time “SportsNation” airs each afternoon and the time “Hill & Schlereth” airs on ESPN Radio, it is not known at this time if Schlereth will host both programs should he officially assume “SportsNation” hosting duties. Currently, Cowherd hosts both “SportsNation” and his own ESPN Radio show, “The Herd,” which airs earlier in the day (10 AM-1 PM ET) than “SportsNation.”
Not to suggest that Schlereth would not be up to the challenge of hosting two programs on two different ESPN platforms every day.
The bigger challenge for Mark Schlereth – and to a larger extent, Charissa Thompson – would be retaining the most important members of “SportsNation” – the viewing public.